Best penstemons to grow
Penstemons are bee-friendly, slug-resistant perennials. We pick 10 of the best.
Penstemons are gorgeous, bushy perennials, highly valued for their long season of flowers in a range of colours.
They can be short-lived, so it's a good idea to take softwood cuttings from them in summer – it's quick, easy and will reward you with lots of new plants for free.
As an added bonus, penstemons are largely slug-proof. Try combining them with other slug-proof plants like agastache, hardy geraniums, knautia and sidalceas. Find more advice on choosing slug-resistant plants.
For full advice on growing penstemons, check out our penstemon grow guide.
Discover some of our favourite penstemons to grow, below.
Penstemon 'White Bedder'
Penstemon 'White Bedder' is a very floriferous cultivar, with large white blooms. A lovely choice for a white-themed border, or combined with flowers of virtually any colour. Find more white-flowered plants. Height x spread: 60cm x 45cm.
Penstemon 'Husker Red'
Penstemon digitalis 'Husker Red' is one of the hardier varieties of penstemon, with deep purple-green foliage that contrasts dramatically with the pale white-pink flowers. Grow in full sun to get the best foliage colour. Height x spread: 75cm x 50cm.
Penstemon linarioides subsp. sileri
Penstemon linarioides subsp. sileri is native to the hot, rocky scrublands of southwest United States. It has small, delicate blooms that are a rich, warm yellow. Best grown in a container so it can be moved somewhere frost-free over winter. Height x spread: 45cm x 45cm.
Penstemon 'Dark Towers'
'Dark Towers' is an especially eye-catching cultivar with tubular, pale-pink flowers that seem almost luminescent against the dark purple foliage. Like all penstemons, it'll prove popular with pollinating insects. Height x spread: 70cm x 45cm.
Penstemon 'MacPenny's Pink'
Penstemon 'MacPenny's Pink' is a robust variety with warm pink blooms set against fresh green foliage. It can be propagated by dividing it in spring or taking softwood cuttings in summer. Height x spread: 90cm x 45cm.
Penstemon 'Pink Endurance'
'Pink Endurance' is an upright cultivar with rich-pink flowers and white throats. Try combining it with echinaceas and veronicastrums to create a bee-friendly trio. Find more advice on how to make a bee-friendly garden. Height x spread: 45cm x 40cm.
Penstemon 'Iron Maiden'
This dazzling cultivar produces spires of hot red-orange blooms. Penstemon barbatus 'Iron Maiden' will enjoy a spot in full sun, growing in well-drained soil. Height x spread: 120cm x 50cm.
Penstemon 'Razzle Dazzle'
The deep fuchsia blooms of Penstemon 'Razzle Dazzle' combine beautifully with other strongly coloured flowers like salvias. Like all penstemons, it shouldn't be fed too much, as this will promote lush foliage at the expense of flowers. Height x spread: 90cm x 90cm.
Penstemon 'Sour Grapes'
The flowers of 'Sour Grapes' are a deep, almost celestial purple. It's a robust, hybrid variety that grows to around 60cm tall, so is suitable for the middle of a border. Height x spread: 60cm x 45cm.
Penstemon 'Raven' has some of the darkest blooms of any penstemon cultivar. Try dotting in borders with white-flowered plants, like the gauras pictured, to provide a striking contrast. Height x spread: 100cm x 30cm.
Deadhead regularlyMost penstemons are capable of flowering from midsummer up until the first frosts, but for this to happen you'll need to deadhead spent flower spires regularly. Check out this advice on how to deadhead different types of flowers.
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